Federal Conservation Funding Flows To 202 Watersheds
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 202 watersheds covering more than 83 million acres in every state and the Caribbean area to participate in next year’s Conservation Security Program (CSP).
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Tuesday that the eligible watersheds represent one-eighth or nearly 208,000 of the nation’s potentially eligible farms and ranches.
CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life on Tribal and private working lands. Working lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pasture, and range land, as well as forested land if it is an incidental part of an agriculture operation.
“This voluntary program supports ongoing stewardship of working agricultural lands by providing payments for maintaining and enhancing natural resources,” Veneman said. “Resource conservation improves water, air and soil quality, gives us healthier landscapes and promotes wildlife habitat.”
Authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, the 2005 CSP will include a renewable energy component. Eligible farmers will receive compensation for converting to renewable energy fuels such as soy biodiesel and ethanol, and for recycling 100 percent of on-farm lubricants.
Farmers will also be compensated for implementing energy production, including wind, solar, geothermal, and methane production.
A signup announcement will be published along with the final rule that will detail specific program requirements in the watersheds. The program will be offered each year on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows.
The funds that will be dedicated to CSP are part of the $1.6 billion in mandatory funding that Veneman announced last week to help farmers and ranchers better plan their conservation efforts.
Veneman says that the USDA released these funds to help farmers and ranchers better plan their conservation efforts by knowing the initial mandatory program funding and technical assistance levels well before the next planting season begins, thus helping to connect their business decisions to protecting water, air, soil and wildlife.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.